Welcome to my weekly segment, Waiting on Wednesday, where I look at upcoming books that I am planning to order and review in the next few months and which I think I will really enjoy. I run this segment in conjunction with the Can’t-Wait Wednesday meme that is currently running at Wishful Endings. Stay tuned to see reviews of these books when I get a copy of them. For this latest Waiting on Wednesday I check out an impressive sounding upcoming space opera that is bound to be one of my favourite books of 2022, Kingdoms of Death by Christopher Ruocchio.
Over the last few years, one of the absolute best science fiction series I have had the pleasure of reading was the epic Sun Eater Sequence by Christopher Ruocchio. This series started in 2018 with Ruochhio’s debut novel, Empire of Silence, an outstanding novel that followed compelling protagonist Hadrian Marlo. Set in a gothic far future, Hadrian is a man doomed to universal infamy after ordering the destruction of a sun to commit an unforgivable act of genocide. Told as a chronicle written by an older Hadrian, Empire of Silence detailed his earlier adventures and served as an amazing introduction to the characters and the setting. I had an awesome time reading Empire of Silence, and it ended up being one of my favourite books of 2018. Ruocchio has since written two excellent sequels, Howling Dark (one of my favourite books and audiobooks of 2019) and Demon in White (one of my favourite books of 2020). All three novels have been five-star reads, and I have deeply enjoyed the complex and captivating narrative that Ruocchio has set up. So, you can imagine my excitement when I saw that the series will continue early next year with a fourth book, Kingdoms of Death.
Kingdoms of Death, which is currently set for release in March 2022, will continue to follow Hadrian as his legend and reputation grows to new heights. This novel will be set around a century after the events of Demon in White (the characters are very long lived, especially as they spend a lot of time in cryogenic sleep while travelling between planets) and will initially detail the consequences of the events that saw Hadrian use unusual reality-bending powers to cheat death.
The fourth novel of the galaxy-spanning Sun Eater series merges the best of space opera and epic fantasy, as Hadrian Marlowe continues down a path that can only end in fire.
Hadrian Marlowe is trapped.
For nearly a century, he has been a guest of the Emperor, forced into the role of advisor, a prisoner of his own legend. But the war is changing. Mankind is losing.
The Cielcin are spilling into human space from the fringes, picking their targets with cunning precision. The Great Prince Syriani Dorayaica is uniting their clans, forging them into an army and threat the likes of which mankind has never seen.
And the Empire stands alone.
Now the Emperor has no choice but to give Hadrian Marlowe—once his favorite knight—one more impossible task: journey across the galaxy to the Lothrian Commonwealth and convince them to join the war. But not all is as it seems, and Hadrian’s journey will take him far beyond the Empire, beyond the Commonwealth, impossibly deep behind enemy lines.
I am really excited about this upcoming novel, and it sounds like Ruocchio has a pretty awesome and compelling story in store for us. The above synopsis has a lot of cool details, such as the fact that Hadrian will start the novel a prisoner, which isn’t too surprising as the third novel ended with an entire planet praising him and declaring him a god, right in front of the jealous son of a galactic emperor. This will no doubt continue to play into the political and religious intrigue angles that were so fascinating in Demon in White, and I look forward to seeing how the universe has changed over the last century. The fact that the Emperor gets desperate enough to unleash Hadrian once again is pretty telling, and it sounds like we are getting closer and closer to the final showdown between humans and the alien Cielcin, which will result in Hadrian’s ultimate act of destruction. I cannot wait to see what devastating events result in the usually good-natured and merciful Hadrian to commit to such a terrible course of action, and it should result in some exceptional storytelling.
Another part of the above plot that I am quite excited about is the fact that Hadrian will be visiting another human civilisation in the Lothrian Commonwealth. The Lothrian Commonwealth has been mentioned multiple times throughout the first three novels, but it will be really fascinating to see the protagonist and his companions visit it. Ruocchio is particularly good at universe building, and he will paint a detailed and captivating picture of this new society, which should serve as a distinctive alternative to the dark, repressive, and anti-technological Empire the series has primarily been set in. It should also provide opportunities for additional political intrigue and espionage as Hadrian needs to convince them to join in the war against the Cielcin. I also like the hint at the characters heading behind enemy lines, and it should prove very thrilling and compelling to see Hadrian once again come into conflict with the very dangerous Cielcin, especially if the series big bad once again shows up to face him.
I think at this point it is obvious that I am extremely keen for the next exciting entry in the Sun Eater Sequence. This series has already been incredible, and the fourth entry, Kingdoms of Death, has an immense amount of potential. Based on how outstanding the series has already been and on Christopher Ruocchio’s amazing writing ability, I am extremely confident that I am going to love this new novel and I have no doubts what-so-ever that it will be one of the top books of the year.